A Detroit emergency room doctor was charged Wednesday with conducting genital mutilation procedures on multiple young girls.
Jumana Nagarwala, 44, of Livonia, Michigan was charged with female genital mutilation, a five-year felony, and transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, a 10-year felony, according to an unsealed complaint released on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
She has been accused of performing mutilation procedures this year on at least two 7-year-old girls. According to court documents, investigators suspect the doctor may have even more victims dating back to 2005.
According to the complaint, the FBI learned of Nagarwala performing what Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco has called “horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims,” when unidentified sources tipped them off.
Federal agents interviewed two 7-year-old girls who claimed they traveled from Minnesota with their families to see Nagarwala. One of the girls was allegedly seen by the doctor for what her parents said was a “cleansing” of extra skin, said the court document.
Both girls accurately described the procedures and further examinations showed their genitalia had been cut.
Following the interviews with the two girls, child protective services set out to conduct interviews with other young girls in the area in which the children indicated that had similar procedures by the doctor.
Nagarwala, who remains listed as an emergency room physician on Henry Ford Health System’s website, was arrested on Wednesday and will appear in court Thursday afternoon.
Henry Ford spokesman David Olejarz told the Detroit News,“The alleged criminal activity did not occur at any Henry Ford facility.” He added, “We would never support or condone anything related to this practice.” He further explained that the procedures were carried out at a medical clinic where the doctor did not work.
“The allegations against the defendant in this investigation are made even more deplorable, given the defendant’s position as a trusted medical professional in the community,” said Special Agent in Charge Francis. “My sincere hope is that these charges will give support to those who have allegedly suffered both physically and emotionally.”
A 2016 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 513,000 women and girls in the U.S. have undergone or are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation.
The practice was outlawed in the U.S. in 1996, but prosecutors said this case is believed to be the first in which federal charges were brought under that law.
According to The Washington Times, female genital mutilation is commonly practiced in parts of Africa, which involves the removal of part or all of the female genitalia. The procedure is considered to “initiate girls into adulthood or ensure their virginity or fidelity,” according to Equality Now, a human rights organization.
As it stands, the World Health Organization deems the painful procedures violation of human rights.
“Female genital mutilation constitutes a particularly brutal form of violence against women and girls. It is also a serious federal felony in the United States,” said Daniel Lemisch, the acting U.S. Attorney Eastern District of Michigan, where the charges were filed. “The practice has no place in modern society and those who perform FGM on minors will be held accountable under federal law.”
— WXYZ Detroit (@wxyzdetroit) April 13, 2017
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